Monday, January 11, 1999

My invasion of Normandy at Bayeaux

Marseilles, France
5:30 am. I think the Quick Food for lunch yesterday made me ill. Quite ill. Anyways, I checked out of the hotel around 7:05. My train is waiting at the station. We leave at 7:32, it's a TGV. Oh, the early morning patrol of the two police officers and three soldiers with full auto-assault rifles were doing their rounds. I timed my visit here well, since it is now drizzling, but it was nice and sunny yesterday. The train ride is other-worldly.

I don't know if I'll see the sun today. I think we are parallel to the Rhone right now. It's wide and smooth. A bridge spanned it and looked very picturesque, but I didn't get a picture. There are hills with snow to the west. The clouds are literally coming down and touching the river. We passed a nuclear energy plant. Snow is covering the ground. It's 10:04 and a winter wonderland. I can't tell where the hills stop and the clouds begin. 10:24 and the snow's all gone. Looks wet outside, but it's cleared up. We went under a bridge, the snow came back. 10:40, no mo' snow. The sun is glowing behind the clouds.

Paris, France
I drifted in and out of sleep until we arrived in Paris at 20 past noon. Used the Metro to get across town, to Gare St. Lazare. Checked train time, got McD's cos I was famished. An old woman next to me was drawing portraits in the basement of McD's. Went back to station and studied the time chart. Paris-Bayeux was definitely at 1600. But Paris-Caen was at 1420. Caen is apparently a local hub of sorts and trains go straight to Bayeux from there. So I have to change trains instead of sitting for 90 minutes in the cold, open air station. Hmmm, I think I'll go sit on the 1420 train to stay warm while I think about it.

A case of the stupid foreigner (me): A woman on the train made a big announcement in French, then stopped at each seat. She didn't look like a train worker, but I showed her my ticket anyways. She was just a beggar, as I found out... because someone else gave her some coins and she nodded. The moral: everyone wants money.

Looking out the train window, I actually forgot I was in France. We passed a grass airstrip and lots of industrial/suburbs. The only reason I realized this was because the woman next to me is writing notes in French. There was one section where the grass was bright yellow-green and what looked like cliffs in the background. As I leaned forward to see if there might be a coast, another train blew by, no more than two feet from my face!

Saw some French hunters in a field...even heard the gunfire. I didn't see if he got it though. Switched trains in Caen...I think I'm on the right one. I've kind of given up trying to plan anything, and to try and just be highly mobile and know what to look for. There are a few people standing outside by the car in front of me and using sign language with someone inside. That's kinda cool.

Bayeux, France
Got off at Bayeux, and right there was 1) a cheap (100F) hotel and 2) Normandy tours. So I checked in (apparently there is a hostel but it's 1) not convenient and 2)probably not worth the five bucks I'd save there.

While I wanted a tour tomorrow morning, I'll have to settle for the 1 o'clock. Which gets me back to town at 6:30... to Paris around 9pm...London around midnight? Oh well, there's no way around it. This country is nuts about dogs. There's a TV in this hotel and all the commercials and stories have pooches. Bayeux is an old-country kind of town. Sidewalks were an afterthought. There is a "strip", but off of that it's just winding alleys. Smells like fireplaces.


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